Dating culture is saturated by online dating apps, flirtatious aims sent via a carefully and cleverly crafted text message, and the need for a relationship, hookup, or something in between. Dating used to be a nice chat over coffee or lunch, but now it's more like working for the FBI. Swipe right on the functioning members of society and left on those most likely to star on "Catfish".
The tragicomedy of being single is both easy and difficult to show and tell. Some even fear being single into their thirties or what is somehow considered "forever alone" territory. There is nothing epidemic about not having a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on. Being single is more of a chance for you to get to know yourself better.
This isn't another one-sided swinging single's rant about living solo. I got game, sometimes. Over the course of two years, after I discovered dating apps for the first time, I managed to match with five women. My first experience was on Bumble, one of these women ghosted me, two showed interest but managed to ghost me without ever deleting the match with me.
The conversations were fun and light but started to feel like empty promises of the people we sounded like we could be if we met in person. "If" was the strongest qualifier for that sexy characteristic called "mysterious." When you're online, everyone's mysterious. The whole point of dating online is to solve that mystery together offline.
I never met the women I matched with on Bumble despite my attempts to suggest and start first dates. As a natural response to the artificial formality I received or didn't receive in return, I decided to burn the candle at both ends and joined Tinder. My matches on Tinder were like finding a file folder you don't remember the name of in a 512 gigabyte USB that has one gigabyte of free space left. Unpacking who they are is the least of your worries, it's their intentions that are unclear. I found out on my first two dates.
My one and only Tinder date turned out to be the girl pictured and described. She wore one of the blouses in her pictures which was a big help spotting her in a crowd. When we met for the first time, I didn't know whether to greet her with a hug or a handshake, and being the bookish and sheepish person that I am, I did neither.
I thought either action was moving too fast or informal or assertive because I just met her and I didn't want to or mean to come off as rude or unapproachable. The only girl I ever hugged was my sister and it was always a gymnastics hug, which is a one-arm hug from the side or an air hug with heads averted. She also went in for a hug and all I did was talk to her as I watched her arms go down and her smile starting to dim.
Her personality was friendly at first but it was quickly commandeered by her feminist leanings. I don't bash the positive pursuits of feminism but almost every part of her conversation supported and harked back to being a feminist.
She would repeat my agreements to make them her own affirmations which made it hard to pinpoint her personality. The conversation felt one-sided, self-affirming, self-assertive, very my-way-or-the-highway.
When we had differences of opinion over mundane things like food, she would move on to a new opinion waiting for yet another agreement and affirmation combo. Even my word choice was found to be unreasonably questionable when I asked her what her "impression" was studying abroad for a semester.
I took her out for coffee because her profile says she likes coffee, she says she likes coffee, that much still checks out. By the time we placed our orders, I'm starting to think like a feminist or what a feminist might think. Instead of paying for her coffee and my coffee on one bill, I assumed she would want to pay for herself.
Chivalry could not have dropped dead any faster. She went silent until we sat down to continue the date but I could tell she wasn't the dating type when she told me, "I don't need someone to make me happy." That's what happy people say I guess.
Bumble works great for shy guys like me. However, the expectations and responsibility feels weighted against men who are not only shy but who actually want to start and have a relationship. Women should have a say in who they match with but I think giving women all the say runs the risk of missing out on not only the match they want but the match that is right for them.
Shy or not shy, gauging who someone is in 500 characters or less is an invitation for miscommunication and misread intentions.
The second date I had was with a girl I met through Facebook. She thought I was someone she saw, she noticed I liked books, and one fairy tale later she ghosts me. We dated for four months and again, the expectations were not considerate. The lunches and dinners were no longer food for thought, the shows of affection were falsely reciprocated.
My second date was the girl who said she wanted to be my girlfriend. The same girl who was proud to say she was my first kiss before I could say so. She was the girl I said I love you to, who could only love sparingly due to her daunting background. I was not worth sparing. The Valentine's Day gift I gave her, a Game of Thrones necklace I bought from Etsy, did not give her any reason to wear it.
I'm not on any dating app today and I don't think I'll be on one anytime soon. Besides the obvious superficial sales pitch of your personality, astrological sign, and your likes and dislikes, online dating feels as lazy as grammar in an AOL chat room. For someone who was trying to find a mutual and exclusive relationship, the effort is inexcusable and almost unrealistic.
I understand that everyone is cooler online, you don't need Brad Paisley to tell me that. I just don't think "cooler" is the right word for online behavior. Your Facebook feed is 90% political and activist blogs and videos, but does this highlight or shadow who you really are? It's one thing to show you are all these things, but it is another to tell it.
Social media has a number of effects that produce negative behaviors and can translate to our offline or social behaviors. Studies from BBC Future show that relationships are in jeopardy due to a lack of attention to their partner and a need to be on their phones. On top of addiction, self-esteem, envy, compulsion, loneliness and exclusion are also negative habits born from social media.
I gathered some Bumble profiles from my own personal swiping sessions and the evidence is damning.
"All you need to know." "Wanna know more?" This sounds passive-aggressive. Also, a girl who loves dogs, making stupid jokes, and Drake sounds like any and every other girl. Remember, diversifying is a turn on (for me at least.)
I can't decide if this is as little information as possible or no information at all. The fact that we're using a dating app, or rather an app in order to date, is superficial enough. If you're going to let one image decide your dating life, than you're right: this isn't going to work out.
Yes, it's ironic how people know everything about themselves yet can't find the words to express who they are, but not as ironic as you not telling me anything about yourself because you used up the character limit.
Travel and risk a 90 Day Fiancé situation? No thank you.
Using social media with more social media. It doesn't get any more exclusionary and aloof than this.
You get the idea.
I promised myself I would never find a relationship exclusively through a computer. No computer is ever personal and the least human that contact can be is over the phone. At least then you get to hear the sarcasm in a person’s voice rather than having to sit there trying to figure out that the person you’re texting to isn’t angry with you, based on their terse word choice.
Dating is hard enough without emojis and clever flirts you have actual time to think of. It’s just a bad time when you end up texting each other from across the table. How are dates kept alive anymore? Online dating or dating online means staying online, that is unless you show interest in meeting offline.
By the time that interest is reciprocated and you face your date for the first time, the experience becomes otherworldly. New dating apps have been created in the past and no doubt will keep being made to fit your definition of a date, like Wugo does. Maybe all these dating apps are lining a Russian's pockets instead.
Technology is supposed to make things better but I didn’t know how much of a detraction it could be. That’s how technology works though. Like any machine, it requires initial human contact and not long after you use it, it can start to abuse you. Machines are amoral after all; you get out what you put in and vice versa.
Single life doesn't mean you haven't found someone nor does it mean you're not going to. Dating online, just like social media, has the potential to complicate who you are and who others are. Sometimes it feels like a people-buffet that offers the same helpings swipe after swipe but I won't allow myself to be served on the same platter.
I'm single because I choose to be who I am, I choose to be myself whether I'm offline or online. I believe in dating more than I do online dating, but I also believe in online dating as far as it can take us on a date offline. Here's to seeing and being you.